Brazil's Mantega cancels G20 trip to focus on fiscal goal

BRASILIA Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:44pm EST

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BRASILIA Feb 18 (Reuters) - Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega canceled his trip to the Group of 20 meeting in Australia this week to hammer out the final details of Brazil's key fiscal goal for the year, a government official told Reuters on Tuesday.

President Dilma Rousseff's government is expected to announce this week its 2014 primary budget surplus goal, a gauge of its fiscal discipline that is key to efforts to recover credibility in its economic policies.

The primary surplus is the excess revenue before the payment of interest on debt.

Rouseff's administration is leaning in favor of a target of less than 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, but a final decision has not been taken yet, two government officials told Reuters. The government hopes this goal, smaller than in previous years, would convince investors the administration is being more realistic about a target that it has failed to meet in the last two years.

The rapid deterioration in the government's fiscal accounts under Rousseff has worried investors and raised the specter of a credit downgrade this year.

A Finance Ministry spokesman was not immediately available to confirm the cancellation of Mantega's trip.

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